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Tuesday, 19th February 2013

Libraries, e-Lending and the Future of Public Access to Digital Content

Source: International Federation of Library Associations and Institutes (IFLA)

From The Dawn of Digital:

The arrival of the internet age and the exponential proliferation of digital content have unleashed a new and exciting phase in the democratisation of information, ideas, and knowledge – arguably at least as potent and transformative as any other event in recorded history. However, despite the myriad of innovative social and economic benefits attached to widespread digital distribution and access to information and content, there are disturbing signs that in the realm of free public access the clock is potentially going into reverse in certain areas. Across the fields of music, film and publishing, rights holders are struggling to adapt antiquated analogue business models whilst simultaneously rushing to stem the rising tide of online piracy and illegal distribution of copyrighted digital content facilitated by new technology and networks.

These perceived dangers have generated a broad range of different commercial responses. Digital access licences have generally replaced digital content ownership and licencing terms and conditions increasingly transcend copyright exceptions and limitations. In addition while some publishers/rights holder simply refuse to offer digital content to libraries, others have adopted a wide range of licencing restrictions which render previous library lending models and acquisition/collection development policies difficult or impossible to implement.

This creates a serious challenge. Content creators and rights holders need and deserve viable business models to distribute and monetize their content – but this should not and need not be at the expense of the wholesale erosion of the library model for free public access to information, knowledge and culture which has served, enriched and empowered communities for the last two hundred years.

+ Direct link to document (PDF; 298 KB)

+ Matrix: Models of Accessing Digital Content (PDF; 463 KB)

+ News Release


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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

More articles by Adrian Janes »



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